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I want to download and install and learn a nice, basic command line version of Linux. I want to build a basic foundation of Linux and I haven't been able to do much with Fedora 2 or 3 because I try to work in the Windowing environment.
Ultimately I would like to create a standalone server for web, dns and ftp.
The easiest thing to do (I think at least ) is to install debian from a netinst CD. The iso image can be downloaded here: http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ and is about 100 MB in size. When you boot the CD, it will walk you through disk partitioning and installation of a basic text-only system. When you reboot the first time, it will automatically run a program called "tasksel" to install packages. Don't select any packages and exit. Provided you are connected to the network, you can now install whatever software you want using "apt-get install <program name>". If you don't want X-windows, just don't choose any program that requires it.
You do have some other options on distro's that don't come bundled with a gui (where you can choose any gui you want for any distro, and even tell one to run without it on boot by editing the runlevels)...
You might also want to check out Slack, Arch, or Gentoo
Gentoo can be a pain to compile everything (but can be FAAASST), and Slack doesn't come with great package management (although there are some wonderful tools for it... slapt-get is a lot like Debian's apt-get.... and Slack adheres to the KISS philosophy)... Arch combines the simlicity of Slack and speed of Gentoo (it also has a good package manager)... I use Arch, So I'm biased (and it has a good 250 or 200 meg DL mini cd that has a base install and you get to choose every package you use).
Just to let you know there are other choices than Debian (although Debian is a still a great choice, I used it before I found and fell in love with Arch)
Keeping in agreement with kencaz, if you have most everything installed with FC2 or 3, you can always open a virtual terminal with ctrl-alt and F1-F6 as soon as you get to the GUI login screen. This brings up your 80 character text-based terminal. This way if you need the GUI for something, you have it by pressing ctrl-alt-F7.
You can also do this while you are logged in to the GUI for extra efficency. I do this all the time when I am in the GUI as a user and need quick root access. I find this easier and faster than opening a SU terminal window.
Thanks to all. I did download Debian and I am currently installing it. So far things are going smoothly. As I try to get individual pieces of this working, should I continue to post Debian-related questions here or should I jump to the Debian forum?